|The News Line: Editorial
Monday, 16 July 2012
Sack the government not doctors and nurses
A REPORT leaked this weekend spells out exactly how the Tory-led coalition means to destroy completely the National Health Service and is preparing to take on the trade unions in order to drive through mass sackings and pay cuts for nurses and doctors.
A document issued by 19 chief executives of hospitals in the south-west of England and leaked to the Sunday Times reveals that these executives are organising to drive through savage cuts in pay and staffing levels within the NHS nationally.
At the heart of the document is the plot to slash wages for NHS staff by 5% in a move that would affect an estimated 60,000 health workers.
Alongside this pay cut they are preparing to end overtime payments for night and weekend working along with any extra payment for bank holiday attendance.
Annual leave entitlement by doctors and nurses would also be cut in an effort to achieve the £20 billion cuts to the health service demanded by the coalition.
In order to drive these cuts through, these government stooges recommend that trusts resort to the tactic of sacking every nurse, doctor and health worker and re-employing them on these new terms and conditions.
Anyone refusing to accept re-employment on these terms would be deemed to have refused an employment offer and therefore to have effectively sacked themselves.
Central to this class-war policy to sack thousands of health workers is the plan laid out in this document for hospitals across the country to act in concert, launching a simultaneous campaign of sackings to prevent any one hospital trust being ‘singled out’.
By co-operating on a national scale the paper claims they will be able to overcome an ‘extremely hostile’ reaction to mass sackings from the unions and the public.
In other words, what is being planned is a class war to take on the health unions and inflict a humiliating defeat on them, a defeat that would enable management to impose the wage cuts, efficiency drives and all the staff sackings that the government are demanding as the necessary basis for selling the NHS off to the highest bidder.
Although this proposal has crawled out from this group of highly-paid bureaucrats in the south-west it is clear that this is the job that they were put in place to do by the coalition government and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.
A spokesman for the department of health smugly responded to questions about this document by saying: ‘NHS providers have long had the power to employ staff on such terms and conditions that they consider appropriate, including under the foundation trust laws passed under the previous government.’
What is happening here is that the government is imposing draconian cuts on the NHS, cuts dictated by the economic crisis caused by the banking collapse, and using legislation brought in by the previous Labour regime to take on the unions in order to smash the NHS and turn it into a ‘health business’ where NHS care will be a commodity.
The mass closure of hospitals and services, the sacking of thousands of staff, and the slashing of the pay and conditions of those who remain, is to prepare the way for the most profitable parts of the NHS – mainly non-emergency treatment – to be handed over to the vultures of the private health industry.
This document is an open declaration of war against the NHS and the health unions and it must be answered decisively in like manner.
There can be no negotiations on pay and job cuts. The unions, TUC and non-TUC, must immediately call all workers out on strike to defend the NHS against this onslaught. The coalition government must be brought down and a workers government established that will nationalise the banks and the major industries to bring in socialism.
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